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Mr. Ian Garrett: “Our Daily Bread” (Matthew 6)

February 25, 2009

From the good people of Jesmond Parish Church in the United Kingdom we have the sermon Our Daily Bread by Mr. Ian Garrett.  This sermon, based on Matthew 6 and the familiar petition “Give us our daily bread” of the Lord’s Prayer, is a timely one for us now, as Mr. Garrett basically reminds us to do two things: 1) trust, pray and thank God for His provision for us today, and 2) do not worry about tomorrow.  About the first of these, he writes:


All of that is really implied by v11, ‘Give us today our daily bread.’ But what exactly is covered by that request?’ Well, the food we need, obviously. But then look on to the end of chapter 6 which we’ll come to later – chapter 6 and v31:

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ (v31)

So, food, drink and clothing. And in the New Testament (NT) clothing often includes the idea of shelter – housing – too. Those are the needs that the Lord is on about here – which in turn means we need money to buy them, which in turn means we need jobs to earn money, which in turn means we need to get through education and pass exams to get jobs, and then to have the health to do them. So at the very least, all of what I’ve just mentioned comes under the heading of ‘daily bread.’

Now for most if not all of us, when we pray, ‘Give us today our daily bread,’ the truth is: we’ve got it already. Our fridges and wardrobes are full and we have a roof over our heads. We have jobs and bank balances and health. We already have what we need. And that calls for thankfulness. And as someone has written,

‘Our lack of thankfulness shows us up as practical atheists – taking for granted as part of our circumstances things that are in fact continual gifts from our Father in heaven.’

So when did you last give thanks for your job; or for the skills that mean you have that job; or for the health that means you can do it day by day; and so on?

And along with thanking God goes trusting God to keep securing what we need. Eg, I think it’s easy for those of us in work right now to think, ‘My job secures me,’ and to feel that those out of work right now haven’t got any security. But the truth is: our jobs are not securing us; the Lord is. For the believer, there’s no such thing as ‘job-security’, only ‘God-security’. And God secures us either by providing a job for us, or by providing for us while we’re between jobs.

But what about when we are out of a job, or our job is uncertain? Well, for one thing, while that is our situation, we need to keep trusting, praying and thanking God for meeting today’s needs. If the fridge and the wardrobe are not empty and the roof is still there, then we do have daily bread. So let’s not allow tomorrow’s need – eg, for a job, or an exam result or a place on a course – to eclipse the fact that the Lord has met today’s need. For another thing, we need to be careful about how we react to answers to prayer – especially apparently unanswered prayer. What if, after a while, the Lord hasn’t yet provided us with another job? Well, there is always some mystery about God’s timings in our lives – he has reasons for things that we simply don’t know at the time. But it’s also worth asking whether we’re looking for something more narrow than what will meet our needs. Eg, I have a friend who’s a very highly-qualified graduate, and whose natural inclination would be to hunt in a very narrow graduate sector of jobs. But he had to take work with a temping agency and through that has currently got a not-that-well-paid local council job. But it provides for him and his family. And it’s a reminder that God hasn’t committed himself to further our career plans, but to provide for our needs.

So that’s the first thing this morning: Let’s trust, pray and thank God for meeting today’s needs. And what the Lord Jesus goes on to do, after teaching us the Lord’s prayer, is to call on us not to worry about tomorrow.

J.C. Ryle says something very much like this in his exposition on the Gospel of Matthew: One great feature of heathenism is living for the present. Let the heathen, if he will, be anxious. He knows nothing of a Father in heaven. But let the Christian, who has clearer light and knowledge, give proof of it by his faith and contentment. When bereaved of those whom we love, we are not to “sorrow as those who have no hope.” When tried by cares about this life, we are not to be over-anxious, as if we had no God, and no Christ.

He offers us a gracious promise, as a remedy against an anxious spirit. He assures us that if we “seek first” and foremost to have a place in the kingdom of grace and glory, everything that we really need in this world shall be given to us. It shall be “added,” over and above our heavenly inheritance. “All things shall work together for good for those who love God.” “He withholds no good thing from those who walk blamelessly.” (Rom. 8:28. Psalm 84:11.)

As you can see, if we live according to the Scriptures as pointed out by Mr. Garrett and the Bishop, we will be giving quite a testimony of our faith in God before a world that needs to see such testimony.  May God help each of us to trust Him in these uncertain times and always.

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